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Can You Hear Me Now?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jesus Came to Starbucks

I mentioned the other day that after a night of restless sleep at the marriage retreat, we traversed across the street prior to the Saturday session starting, to get a much needed cup of coffee with all the bells and whistles only Starbucks can produce. Not only was it a white chocolate mocha java, but it had whipped cream on it. Yes, I know it was only 9:00 in the morning, but I can do whipped cream anytime day or night.

We’re sitting there drinking our coffee looking through the ‘best of OKC’ issue of our local gazette and there are only a handful of patrons in the place. A man came in who appeared to be homeless. He had unkempt clothes and hair and was an older appearing gentleman, and he sort of shuffled into the place. I wasn’t nervous about him being there, though I was admittedly a bit cautious.

Our current pastorman has done such an incredible job preaching about the church in Acts and how Jesus wants us to love and serve ALL people, that I don’t react with the immediate knee-jerk reaction I would have even 1 year ago. I have seen pastorman show the same love and service to anyone that happens to cross his path no matter where he is or who they are. He always gives them what he can or listens to them and at the very least prays with them.

So with this mindset firmly in place in my mind and heart I see the man attempt to order a cup of coffee. He pulls out all his collection of coins and they roll across the counter, though not too loudly. By this time we were the only patrons in the place.

Have I mentioned that a part of my multi-tasking abilities crosses over into eavesdropping? Okay…I’m an eavesdropper, sometimes at the cost of those around me. I can’t help it. I hear a word or a comment or see a visual image and can’t take my eyes, my ears, every sense…off of it.

I vaguely hear the man ask how much a cup of coffee is and the woman behind the counter just continues to say: “I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you.”

This goes on for just a minute or so and my husband is wondering why I’m not paying full attention to him. I say to my husband: “that man wants a cup of coffee but I don’t think he has the money. Would you please go pay for his coffee?” and of course my husband, who is much farther along than I am with helping and serving others, goes to the employee to notify her he would pay for the man’s coffee.

She then tells the man and my husband: “I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you.”

Clearly the man has been blackballed from Starbucks. My husband returns, the man leaves and security is close behind. Security goes out to the street to shoo the man down the road away from their 6-star hotel and high-end Starbucks.

It made me so angry. Of course, I didn’t think to just go buy another cup and take it to the man. Next time that is what I’ll do. For the time being I’m left feeling a bit sour about my own patronage to Starbucks in general. I’ve actually seen something similar happen at another Starbucks in another area of town and at the time thought little of it.

I can almost understand if the man were panhandling or scaring the patrons, but he had money. He wanted to buy a cup of coffee just like we did just 15 minutes earlier. He was a little less clean, perhaps. He may have even been a bit smelly. But he had cold, hard cash (albeit in coin form), and simply wanted a cup of coffee.

I told my husband what bothers me perhaps MOST is that at any given moment we are only 2 paychecks away from being in this man’s shoes.

I think that was Jesus in Starbucks on Saturday and what makes me saddest is not only the employees reaction and ultimate denial of service, but my own lack of outrage and action to this prejudice.

My prayer is that God would continue to put people HE chooses before me to show me His love crosses over all races, socio-economic classes, religions, cities, etc. My prayer is that God’s love would be what others see when they interact with me. And that they wouldn’t see judgment or caution, only love.

In Other News:
I also got tagged by my friend Grafted Branch for a “book Meme” and you know how I do love books…so while it’s CLOSE to one I’ve done before; it’s not the same exact Meme.

If you could write a novel about any subject, what would it be? (Just the subject–don’t give away your plot idea!)

If I wrote a novel I’m sure it would be some overly-involved story of too many people’s lives. I tend to overdo just about everything, writing included (as if you all didn’t know that, LOL). I also find that as I read books, sometimes I’m left wondering about lack of character development and that’s where the overly-imaginative, under-stimulated brain kicks in.

That said, I’d choose something supernatural and perhaps for young children; i.e. “My Walk With an Angel” or “Jesus Goes to Kindergarten” or something along those lines. I’m much more drawn to nonfiction writing but OH do I appreciate those gifted fiction authors!

Oh and I’m feeling so much better. Thanks to all who prayed and sent “well-wishes”. I’m back, I’m armed for warfare and I’m ready to roll!

Have a Happy Wednesday and remember; Love God, Love Others!


HeyJules said...

It's a hard thing living in this world some days, isn't it? Perhaps Starbucks kicked him out because he was unkempt or, perhaps he's been in before ranting and raving and has lost the priveledge to shop there now. We'll never know. But you offering to buy his coffee was a beautiful act in and of itself. And yes, next time, buy it and take it out to him. Even better.

But don't be so eager to discount Starbucks. I've worked in retail and there WERE people that regularly caused extreme problems in our store on 98% of their visits so yes, the other 2% of the time we also escorted them back outside. Not saying it was right...just that that is how most places deal with this issue. In other words, it's not just's all retailers as far as I have seen.

But - that being said - you can still stand in the gap for that man and be his hands and feet and get him what he needs. God bless you for even thinking about it.

Grafted Branch said...

That's really terrible about the Starbucks encounter. Sorry that happened.

Thanks for taking my tag on the book meme. I expect you've done them all, being as popular as you are, but I had to tag someone who likes, of course! I like that your heart for children is shining through.

And yes...everything is good here. Lord willing, it will continue to be so. If not, He will walk with me.

Swandive said...

Just found you, love the image, but the story is even better.
I - too - worked in the retail / customer / restaurant biz forever. It's true, sometimes people have to be permananty 86'ed (gone, all out, none more) but that does not excuse anyone from treating another human as less than just that, human. I have struggled with my relationship with Starbucks over the years. I never get the order wording right, I never feel cool enough, and I never feel so much better after spending 5 bucks on something I slam down in 3 minutes. So thank you for this post. I hope you don't mind - I might link to it myself today. :)
Bless you and all those you love.

Joy M. said...

To ease your mind a bit about Starbucks: The one my daughter works at donates food, coffee, and money to almost every organization that comes in and asks them to. When the tornadoes went through here, they took coffee and pastries to the cleanup crews and emergency workers. I don't think it was a "Starbucks" issue. Just maybe that particular store.

So sorry you were sick! I thank God you are better now!

Heather Smith said...

I posted about something similar to this today myself! I totally agree!

Morning Glory said...

Ah, those first impressions again. It was really kind of you to try to help the guy, but my guess is the same as previous comments -- he probably had a bad history in that place. Even when we try to show love or care, it sometimes doesn't work, but the important thing is that you felt compassion rather than judgment.

Kristen said...

That is so sad. I believe I'll be black balling Starbucks from now on. Poor man. Kudos to you and your husband for trying to help him. I think I would have done the same thing. What is wrong with this world?!

Dawn said...

It's hard to judge what might have happened in the past. Obviously this clerk had a history with this particular man. At least that's the way I read it. Reminds me of the homeless guy (who legend had it was heir to a great amount of money) who practically lived on campus. I could tell when he came in to Hardee's and sat down, because of the "aroma." He would get a cup of hot water, several little containers of creamer, some packets of sugar, and have his morning "coffee break." I felt sorry for him, but he smelled so bad!! He had a serious mental issue that caused him to live like that. He could have been living in luxury, from what I understand. So many questions and so few answers.

Shalee said...

Oh, Kim, at least you noticed and made the offer this time. Next time, you will know what to do first time at bat. Standing up for the unwanted is such a Godly thing to do! Walking out for them all the better. Having the coffee with them at a Panera's (or some other establishment) would really put the cake.

I'd also recommend that you put your money where your beliefs are. I started boycotting Starbucks when I realized that they are one of the top contributors to P.R.I.D.E. (You have to let them know why you're boycotting them or it won't help.) Their motto is that they just support what their employees and customers value, so they will not stop. I'm pretty sure that if a majority of their customers knew what they stood for, it might change their buying habits, especially when there are other places that make just as delicious drinks.

And as a former Starbucks barista, I can tell you that Starbucks adds an additional 40% caffeine to their beans to keep you coming back for more. Scary, isn't it?

GiBee said...

First, I see a letter to Starbucks in your very near future!

Next, I would disagree with the whole "bad history" argument, simply because if that were the case, then why didn't they allow YOUR HUSBAND to purchase the coffee for him? Very strange.

Letter. Write a letter. Ummm ... and we want to read it, too.

The "big footed" lady.

absonjourney said...

Bad history or not refusing to sell someone a cup of coffee was simply bad form. Further, to bring in security? Knowing the area of town and what has happened to the homeless in that area it does not surprise me. Way to go Kim. I'm proud of you andyour outrage. Hope you're feeling better!

Anonymous said...

I so enjoy reading about your insight into things. I often wonder if I would have feared Jesus when He was on earth, simply because of His appearance. My prayer and hope is that I would react to Him just as you and your hubby did here. With no fear, simply love and a desire to serve.

Bless you my friend. :)

Spookie the Warrior said...

It's really difficult to put ourselves out there when we see an injustice occuring. But when we do - we may upset other people, but I asure you it does make them think. I don't think it so much a "Starbucks" problem as a "People judging people" problem. Well done to you and your husband for trying to help him. "Whatever you have done for the least of theses, you have done it unto me..."

I am glad you are feeling better!! :)

Grafted Branch said...

I'm going to show my ignorance here, sorry...what is P.R.I.D.E.?

tonia said...

my own lack of outrage and action to this prejudice.

ouch. Thanks for sharing that story.

kpjara said...

I tried to "google" P.R.I.D.E. and the only thing that continued to come up with regards to Starbucks was about Gay/Lesbian rights.

Shalee or whomever: What Is P.R.I.D.E. and what does it stand for?


Shalee said...

P.R.I.D.E. is the gay/lesbian right movement which is fully supported by Starbucks. Scholarship funds, financial support for candidates who support it, the P.R.I.D.E. parades, lobbying for laws to be changed - all these are just a few ways that Starbucks, as a company, says that their employees and customers want them to support. I don't support their movement. I don't want my purchasing power to go to something to that I am opposed. So I choose to not support the businesses that tell me that they will support this cause no matter what I think.

For a further look, read this article. You will get a better view of just what you get for that $4 mocha.

Rochelle said...

I have had similar experiences and I never seem react the way I wish I would have reacted when I replay the scenerio in my mind. I want to respond the way Jesus would respond, but fear I fall WAY short! I think I freeze in the moment. But I am working on it! Thank you for this reminder. And thank you for visiting my blog!